Over 250 Microsoft employees have signed a letter addressed to the top executives, urging a more proactive response to the George Floyd protests and demanding that Microsoft stop offering services to law enforcement.
Many police departments use Microsoft Office 365 which gives them access to Microsoft Word, Outlook, Excel, and other tools – including SharePoint and communications tools.
Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure also powers intelligence software such as Chorus Intelligence.
The letter has a long list of suggestions to the company, including formal support for Black Lives Matter (BLM), canceling of the contracts the company has with the Seattle Police Department, and the company’s support for calls for the Seattle Mayor to resign.
The original email had only 20 employees on the CC line. But, as the draft circulated, more employees volunteered to be included in a show of solidarity. It was sent on the morning of June 8 to Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, and Executive Vice President Kurt Delbene with “Our neighborhood has been turned into a warzone” as the subject.
“Every one of us in the CC line are either firsthand witnesses or direct victims to the inhumane responses of SPD to peaceful protesting,” said part of the email.
The mastermind of the email lives in Seattle’s Capitol Hill area, which has seen some of the more violent protests.
“Those who choose to support the movement in ways other than boots-on-the-ground protests have also suffered the results of the SPD response,” read part of the email thread. “Tear gas streams into apartments through cracks in the wall as far as a mile away. The sound of flashbangs and fired tear gas canisters reverberates through the night, past 2 to 3 a.m. most days this week, including last night. Worse yet is the fear and stress that these employees are dealing with, fear that has been compounded by SPD’s ever-escalating response.”
Microsoft, through CEO Satya Nadella, issued a statement which started, “As a company, we need to look inside, examine our organization, and do better.”
Such bold moves by employees are the latest trend in the tech industry. Last week Facebook employees expressed their discontent with the company’s decision not to censor the President’s remarks.
Microsoft employees, however, are taking a different approach by making a direct request to the company. The email lists other demands such as; the company denouncing the use of flashbangs, tear gas and rubber bullets, defunding law enforcement agencies including SPD, leniency during performance reviews of employees due to the protests and the pandemic, and the company to sign a petition requiring the resignation of the Mayor of Seattle.
However, the email started with a note that said inclusion in the CC section was a way to express solidarity, not a show of complete support for all requests and demands in the email.